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Preview: Coyotes at Blackhawks

Chicago seeks eighth win in nine games; goalie Mike Smith starts for Arizona

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

COYOTES (21-30-7) AT BLACKHAWKS (37-18-5)

8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CSN-CH, NHL.TV


Coyotes team scope

Goaltender Mike Smith will start for the Arizona Coyotes, who seek their second straight win in the first of back-to-back games at the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. Smith was removed from the Coyotes' 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday after a third-period collision under the NHL's concussion protocol. But he practiced Wednesday, participated in Arizona's morning skate and has been cleared to play. Louis Domingue, who missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, will be his backup. The Coyotes are 5-2-1 in their past eight games and playing some of their best hockey of the season. "Our young players are finally getting to feel like they can play at this level," coach Dave Tippett said. "We've had everywhere from three to five to six rookies in every night, and early in the season it's hard for them to get going. Once they get up to speed, they feel like they can contribute." ForwardLawson Crouse, one of those rookies, will miss his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury.


Blackhawks team scope

The Blackhawks are 7-1-0 in their past eight games and are looking for their third straight win. It's the second home game this month for Chicago, which is five points behind the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference. The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-3 win at Minnesota on Tuesday and have a chance to get closer to the Wild, who don't play again until Monday. "You're always thinking," coach Joel Quenneville said of the division race. "I think that game against Minnesota the other day certainly got your appetite [going], thinking that they're a good hockey team, the building was alive and [we're trying] to keep these guys within striking distance." Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson didn't participate in the morning skate but is expected to play. Goaltender Corey Crawford, who's 5-1-0 in his past six appearances, will start.


Coyotes projected lineup

Tobias Rieder -- Martin Hanzal -- Radim Vrbata

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Shane Doan

Max Domi -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Ryan White

Jamie McGinn -- Jordan Martinook -- Josh Jooris

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Luke Schenn

Alex Goligoski -- Anthony DeAngelo

Jakob Chychrun -- Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Peter Holland, Kevin Connauton

Injured: Brad Richardson (lower body), Lawson Crouse (lower body)


Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman -- Tanner Kero -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Andrew Desjardins, Jordin Tootoo, Michal Rozsival

Injured: None


Status report

DeAngelo, who was recalled from Tucson of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will play his first NHL game since Dec. 31. … Quenneville said he might make a lineup change on defense and hinted that it could involve Rozsival playing for the first time since Jan. 15. It's unclear who would come out of the lineup to make room for Rozsival, who's been a healthy scratch in three straight games since coming off injured reserve following a lower-body injury.


Who's hot

Dvorak has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his past nine games. Vrbata has six points (one goal, five assists) during a six-game point streak. … Toews has nine points (four goals, five assists in a four-game point streak, and 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in his past 12 games. Keith has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his past eight games, and needs one point for 500 in his NHL career. Panik has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past six games. Kane has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his past eight games.

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